Gill MacAulay

Gill MacAulay

Director and Gatekeeper, Gabriel Investments

Gabriel is an angel syndicate, aimed specifically at supporting young businesses. It doesn’t matter how young – we welcome ‘lightbulb moments’ too – and the process is simple, to help get the funds injected into the business quickly.

Securing seed funding for your start-up isn’t easy. In fact in the early stages actually working out what type of funding you need isn’t really a walk in the park. But as a talent focused business we wanted to understand what investors are looking for in your team at that early stage.

  • Who should be on my team?
  • Who should be advising me?
  • Should I be leading the company?

All valid questions that you may not have thought about so we had a chat to the gatekeeper of one of Scotland’s leading seed funding investors, Gillian MacAulay from Gabriel Investments to uncover some answers.

Gabriel Investments operate in the early stage investment tech sector helping companies get their concept off the ground preparing them for Series A funding and potential growth.

So Gillian what level of investment do you operate at?

“We began in 2008 at the height of the recession as it became apparent the investment wasn’t filtering down to the company’s at the start of the process. The banks were very cautious and some great ideas were not getting off the ground.

Originally we started at £40,000 which was match funded by Scottish Investment Bank (SIB). Over the course of various reviews with SIB we are now looking at up to £120,000; that said our ‘vanilla flavour’ of investment is around the £60- £70,000 mark.

What challenges does the CEO face in the early stage?

There are so many challenges. We operate predominately in the tech space and the first question we ask is “should you be the CEO?”

We want to understand what it is that this leader brings to the company that means they should be the CEO. If they are a technologist and that’s where their skills and passion lie then they need to look at other options for that role as the CEO needs to wear lots of different hats.

What are the keys roles need to be covered in an early stage business?

You have to start at the top. You need to understand who is driving the business and where are they taking it? In a technology business there could be a cross over between the CEO and CTO which we would always look to define properly before investing.

Then a big part of the strategy for these early stage companies in securing investment is a sale strategy. Not sales and marketing but sales. I understand that to many these two do cross over but certainly in my eyes they are different. Many technologist take on the concept of build it and they will come. This is not a sales strategy. So you need a specialist who understands route to market, building customer relations and generating some meaningful sales. To an investor this is vital as it show potential of a market and something that can be developed. In my eyes the commercial and sales element is vital.

How do you go about filling the skills gaps in the early stage?

Scotland is well placed with a range of different agencies that can help start-ups to find talent without the high fees. The likes of TalentSpark, Informatic Ventures, Linc are all there to advise and support young companies find the right talent – which can in some occasions be in an advisory role.

Attracting the talent can be challenging but being able to offer young people the chance to get in on the ground floor can be very attractive. Suggesting to them that they will have a chance to grow with the company and be part of something special can be very attractive – its not always about the salary.

Watch the full interview here. For advice on preparing your team to secure investment get in touch with our team.

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